The goal of building a legal services network for immigrants got a boost Tuesday night with a major donation to the Immigrant Justice Corps. The Robin Hood Foundation announced a $1.3 million gift that will jump-start the organization’s plan to recruit 25 new or recent graduates from law schools who are willing to devote at least two years to representing immigrants, particularly those who are facing orders of deportation.

The Immigrant Justice Corps, headed by Nisha Agarwal, is seen as a first step toward building a nationwide network of attorneys committed to helping the immigrant poor—a long-time goal of Judge Robert Katzmann, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit who, since 2007, has targeted and documented the gap in representation for the poor in immigration courts.

Agarwal said Wednesday that the 25 “Justice Fellows” will serve for two years, possibly three, and make $47,000 a year, although their salaries could be augmented. The $1.3 million grant from the foundation, which also donated money to plan the program and is providing a temporary home to the Justice Corps in Manhattan, will also fund 15 “Community Fellows,”­ recent college graduates who will serve two year stints. Agarwal said the $1.3 million in seed money launches the program and gives it a considerable start on fundraising.

The program is expected to cost $4 million this year and $7 million next year. It has a three-year goal of doubling the roughly 7,500 immigration cases handled by non-profit organizations in New York City annually. Information about the program is available at